wogma rating: The keen must watch on screen; else TV/online (?)
An engaging 2.5+ hours with a film that might as well have been titled Sanju ke baba or anti-medianama. Enjoyed it better by not thinking of him as Sanjay Dutt but more as a shameless, callous, blame-shifter manbaby.Read more
The good news is and the bad news could be that Ranbir Kapoor looks mind-blowingly like Sanjay Dutt. As a basic requirement, Ranbir Kapoor would have to look like Sanjay Dutt and be able to emulate his mannerisms. So far, so brilliantly good. But now, over the 2-3 hour span of the film, Ranbir Kapoor has to be able to make us forget how well he has transformed so that we feel like we are watching Sanjay Dutt himself.
Other than that, as intriguing as Dutt’s life has been and as balanced a view the trailer makes it out to be, maintaining that balance would be an uphill task over the length of the film. At the same time, even though we are used to Rajkumar Hirani’s films being message films, the message of this film might quickly just become, “My name is Sanjay Dutt, and I am not a terrorist.”
I am really hoping the movie will go beyond being just another hagiographical account, that too one in which the hero of the story had many a vice.
Sanju releases on 29th June 2018.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Sanju reminded me of the famous ‘mausiji’ scene from Sholay. Our hero is a self-confessed drug addict, womanizer, listless, brazen brat. But, like Sholay’s true friend, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajkumar Hirani is trying his best to convince us, the audience (mausiji) of the friend’s innocence. Only that this 2 minute 55 second scene is a 2 hour 40 minute film. However, like the scene, the film builds up and keeps you engaged. It really helped that I tried to forget that this was a celebrity’s story who society has already judged one way or the other.
I don’t remember the last time a film made me analyse a flawed character so.
Stripped off the celebrity status, Sanju is the story of a troubled child who seems like he needed parenting at least until he was 44. This child had self-esteem problems induced by daddy issues. He became a rebel. When a gullible, clueless, rich brat becomes a rebel, he ends up making the wrong friends and taking up self-destructive habits. The first few times he used drugs, there were triggers. And then he became an addict. Till here, the story sounds like it could have happened to any family. Under pressure, a child took an escape route. Sure not all people who disappoint their parents turn to drugs. But some do. And he was one.
When this child, now a man, was accused of storing arms, he accepted the charge and said he had his reasons. And ever since, the man says, the press blew it out of proportion. Sure, not everyone who has their reasons store arms, I don’t know if some of them do, but this particular character did. However, it all comes across as pushing the blame to the situation, a bad choice in friendship, an excuse that seems absolutely acceptable in the situation and so on.
And just when I was about to dismiss the character as a blame-shifting loser, I realised, that he does own up to some of his greatest flaws – not being loyal in his relationships and not being professional. The audacity is appalling and unacceptable. And also, at these times at least, he does not try to shift the onus elsewhere. It does seem like the man’s self-esteem issues continue though, for he has a film made about this life to prove things to a world he claims to not care about.
I don’t remember the last time a film made me analyse a flawed character so. Now, you add on the Sanjay Dutt layer and it only makes you wonder about the things deliberately kept out of the film. It almost certainly is deliberate about leavin his love life out. The man has been married thrice. It doesn’t even talk much about the person he might be to the people around him. He must have some redeeming factors, right? He seems to have a supportive wife and people who like him enough to have a film made with the sole purpose of proving his innocence. So, hagiographical the film is certainly not.
Well, at least not about Sanjay Dutt. Sunil Dutt, his father though, is put on a pedestal like no other biography could. About a fourth of the film seems to be dedicated towards how great the man was, even if he wasn’t the best of fathers to a young Sanjay Dutt. And towards the end it actually seems like Sanjay Dutt’s intention was to pay a tribute to his father through a film. Yes, it is difficult to suppress the feeling that our hero is still trying to please his father.
Likewise, the film spends quite a lot of its energy by being shockingly vocal about the protagonist’s angst against the media. At first, you empathize with him. Then they point a finger at you, the audience who consumes whatever is dished out by the media. And then it gets so intense by the end of the film, that you wonder if it weren’t for the media, would Sanjay Dutt have not been a drug addict or not store a fire-arm, out of innocence or not. At the end though, if the film has convinced even a fraction of the audience that it shouldn’t believe everything it reads or sees, it would be a great service to humanity. It is a message film, after all. So much so that wonder if the film is even about Sanjay Dutt.
Stripped off the celebrity status, Sanju is the story of a troubled child who seems like he needed parenting at least until he was 44.
Rajkumar Hirani has made some very bold choices here. Sure, in a way it is understandable even if not acceptable, that his Sanjay Dutt’s first two wives are barely mentioned. Similarly, we can also take in stride why the film is mum about Nargis Dutt’s role in her son’s childhood. It might help that I am not even remotely curious about Sanjay Dutt’s life. But we have to admire the things that made it to the film. It must have been tempting to squeeze in some of the Sanju-baba-lovers into the film, even if it was an fellow-inmate that he was nice too. It must have been tough call to be so in-the-face and unabashed about Sanjay Dutt’s promiscuity and disloyalty. It does create a love-hate relationship with the character.
Of course, a lot of how the film engages comes from the actors. Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal and Jim Sarbh anchor the film, even though their accents slip every once in a while. The women don’t really have too much of a role to play in this film, don’t know about Sanjay Dutt’s life. Ranbir Kapoor is uncannily similar to Sanjay Dutt in looks and body language. There is this one very short scene when he is given a slo-mo and I smirked at the exaggerated Sanju-baba gait. Only to realise that is how the man walks, at least in his films. Sure, he slips and it feels like he is trying to hard at times. It throws you off when you realise it is not Sanjay Dutt after all. Also, the drug addiction scenes don’t convince you how down and out Sanju is. The drastic actions don’t tie in and feel episodic. Now, I haven’t been able to figure if it is because of the actor, the writing or the direction.
We do know Rajkumar Hirani has a tendency to keep things light, even in the most serious situations. This might as well be the disconnect between the character’s actions and the situation. Or it could be a lack of even pace between times of rehabilitation and usage. He seemed more sober than stoned. Fortunately, the story is gripping enough. If nothing else, you wonder if it will show the kids why they shouldn’t do drugs, without it becoming a lecture. Oh there you go, another message. And let’s not forget the parenting tips slided in.
In Sanju though, Hirani goes a step further in how the story is presented too. It could have been a straightout chronological account or a narration from the horse’s mouth or his best friend through out. But, the non-linearity adds value to the film. It is not used as a mere tool to keep things interesting.
I also like the way Rajkumar Hirani weaves songs into his films. There is something very Hindi-filmy and fresh about them. Even the unnecessarily nasal ones. Yes, you wonder if Sunil Dutt actually chastised Sanjay Dutt or was it just Hirani’s way of paying tribute to Sunil Dutt’s lip-syncing act in ‘ik chatur naar’ of Padosan.
There are many details in the film that will widen your eyes with disbelief, “No, that didn’t really happen! Did it?” They might be true, they might be embellished truth or pure altered for dramatic effect. But, it worked in keeping me engaged about a character that I otherwise wouldn’t care about in a film and don’t really care about in real life. Well, at least through most of it. So, whether or not I am sensitized to Sanjay Dutt’s plight, I had a good time in the theaters.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, Bollywood Hungama : ...On the whole, SANJU is an entertaining saga that blends emotions, humour and drama in adequate doses. It is powerful, engaging, emotional as well as compelling. The combination of Rajkumar Hirani and Ranbir Kapoor works like a dream. At the box office, despite not being a ‘typical Rajkumar Hirani family entertainer’, SANJU will score tremendously and emerge as a Monstrous Hit! Don’t miss it! ... full review
Thumbs up, by Tushar P. Joshi, Bollywood Life : ...Sanju is undoubtedly Ranbir Kapoor’s career best performance and will fetch him all the awards and recognition. Don’t go looking for a fair and accurate depiction of Dutt’s life and you won’t be disappointed. Watch it for the sheer entertainment it provides and the unmatched versatility of Ranbir Kapoor. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Sanju tells you superstars are humans too. They can make bad, even horrible decisions -- like every other human being on earth and we shouldn’t be quick to judge them. Rajkumar Hirani, the director has made a hugely entertaining film for the audience. And for his friend Sanjay Dutt, he has given a vehicle to finally tell his version of events and say to his detractors -- bas ho gaya yaar! ... full review
Thumbs up, by Swetha Ramakrishan, FirstPost : ...Ultimately Sanju is Ranbir Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal's film. Both actors pull even the flawed parts of the film together, and neatly wrap the histrionics with flavour and variety. Sanju is an entertaining film, and has all the elements of a blockbuster — but one wishes the honesty and nuance went beyond just the performances. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Samrudhi Ghosh, india today : ...It is not child's play to make a biopic, particularly on someone whose life has been splashed all over the tabloids, in excruciating detail. Given the kind of biopics we have seen in commercial mainstream Bollywood so far, Sanju has definitely raised the bar. Watch Sanju for Ranbir Kapoor, Rajkumar Hirani, the laughs, the tears... in a nutshell, everything. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Nilesh Ramchanadani, Kia Gia : ...On the whole, 'Sanju' does not star Ranbir Kapoor, it stars Sanjay Dutt and we'll never believe there was an actor acting his scenes. What the makers skipped is debatable but what they've shown consider every bit of appreciation. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, Sanju entertains, surprises & blows your mind. Ranbir Kapoor stays in the zone & rules it. Vicky Kaushal is going to fly high after this one. Rajkumar Hirani achieves the excellence 5th time in a row! ... full review
Thumbs up, by Komal Nahta, Komal Nahta : ...On the whole, Sanju is a definite blockbuster. It will work wonders for Ranbir Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal in particular. It will also boost the image of Sanjay Dutt in the public eye, which will help in Dutt’s future career. It can easily cross the Rs. 250-crore mark in India. It shouldn’t be a surprise if it even joins the 300-crore club, making it one of the biggest blockbusters of Hindi cinema!! Its business in multiplexes will be HUGE. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Jaidev Hemmady, Movie Talkies : ...Sanju will make you laugh and will also bring a lump to your throat and I bet that Ranbir Kapoor will walk away with all the possible awards this year. This weekend, do yourself a favour and go watch Sanju.... full review
Thumbs up, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Writer Abhijat Joshi should be credited for rhyming ‘hopeless’ and ‘topless’ while furnishing a context that isn’t forced. A scene worth mentioning features an odd exchange between Dutt and a certain politician. As Dutt apprises him of his situation, the latter dozes off mid-conversation, only to wake up seconds later to pick it up from where he left off. Some may complain that Sanju makes light of the convicted actor’s inglorious misadventures. But if one really hoped for a bittersweet account, we’d watch an Anurag Kashyap.... full review
Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Ranbir covers a wide range of Dutt's changing physicality -- the minutest of details are captured in his shoulders, eyes, frame, voice -- but it's the internalisation of Dutt and the intelligence to know what to highlight and where to hold back that lends candour borderlining on conceit such awe-inspiring authenticity. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Rachit Gupta, Times of India : ...Hirani's idea of making a film on his life has certainly paid off. Yes, there’s a lot missing, but even then, this is still an incredible story of a man and a movie star who made massive mistakes, walked through fire, survived it and lived one heck of a life. ... full review
So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...Signing off, I was personally expecting Sanjay Dutt to come on screen in the end addressing the youngsters, requesting them to SAY NO TO DRUGS with folded hands, giving the example of his own life, as seen in the film.... full review
So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...In the end, the blame for all the trauma the family faced is laid at the doorstep of a sensation-seeking media; there’s even a song to that effect with the end credits, when the real Sanjay shakes a leg with his screen avatar.... full review
So-So, by Rohit Bhatnagar, Deccan Chronicle : ...In totality, Sanju can be your weekend pill of entertainment. Watch it for some really good performances. You might give some sympathy to the controversial star. ... full review
So-So, by Anna MM Vertticad, FirstPost : ...Sanju belongs though to Ranbir Kapoor who drowns out his own personality so completely in favour of the Baba persona, that in that closing song when he appears as himself – slim, handsome and not looking ravaged like his character – I had to remind myself that this is in fact what he looks like in real life. ... full review
So-So, by Rohit Vats, Hindustan Times : ...Sanju is another gem in Ranbir Kapoor’s repertoire, but the same can’t be said about Raj Kumar Hirani. Sanju is watchable but a very average fare. ... full review
So-So, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...Still, what we get, and how we get it, in Sanju, is mostly engaging, and some of it good enough to make you laugh out loud in pleasure, especially when Hirani is killing it. But you wonder too what the film chose to leave out, and you wonder if this would have been more of a film if those things had been in here. ... full review
So-So, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...It makes sense that Hirani would get Ranbir Kapoor—whose characters are often directionless—to play the ultimate lost boy of Hindi cinema. The imitation (astonishing at times) takes over the performance; I found myself more impressed than affected by it.... full review
So-So, by Mohar Basu , MiD DAY : ...These are glaring hiccups in an otherwise watchable and frankly, very enjoyable film. Just don't hope for a warts-and-all biopic. I guess that one Dutt is taking to his grave because this easy-to-offend world we live in doesn't have the objectivity to stomach that tale.... full review
Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Kaushal’s terrific performance overshadows Paresh Rawal’s one-note turn as Sunil Dutt, and if there is anybody in Sanju who steals some of the attention from Ranbir Kapoor, it’s him.... full review
_surya_prabhas_: Ranbir❤️❤️❤️ #Sanju
yashkkansara: Watched #Sanju! how brilliant Ranbir Kapoor is as an Actor. Simply Incredible! Vicky Kaushal too. Very nice movie
TiwariJagadish: Wonderfull content, excellent #biopic #RajKumarHirani another master #sanju salute #ranbir
SunidhiChauhan5: #sanju is MUST watch!! Thank you @RajkumarHirani and #RanbirKapoor for this experience.#respect
SRKsAashique: MAZA AA GAYA RK MASTERPIECE SANJU
siraj_majhi: #Sanju from is temporary class is permanent proved #Ranbir
sidhantaagarwal: Everyone must watch Sanju and acknowledge two facts: 1. Baba is an inspiration 2. Ranbir is mind-blowing #sanju
SHIVAPURI12: Must watchable movie #sanju.........my eyes r wetted with full of tears.... Every sene is very emotional......... Close to heart
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RaviAKP: #Sanju .... An emotional ride ... Excellent... Must watch
rao_goka: #Sanju is Brilliantly Executed & Superbly Performed Film. #RanbirKapoor You are Just OUTSTANDING
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Rahulah50025557: #Sanju superb acting #ranbirkapoor #pateshrawal and @vickykaushal09
RaghavPurohit7: Never loved or cried this amount the amount I I did for #Sanju . Awesome movie, gr8 work by @RajkumarHirani Ranbir and all the cast.
prof_mshukla: #Sanju Absolute class ! acting and direction ...Ek number Hatsof to #RajKumarHirani and #RanbirKapoor #SanjuReview #SanjayDutt
pritiarora1995: #Sanju What a film ... @iamRanbirKapoor Love you
paponmusic: #Sanju is a treat! It made last night so special! Big love to @RajkumarHirani #RanbirKapoor and of course to #SanjuBaba
Nandu_4everPK: Superb Emotional Ride #Sanju
MSD7Ronaldo: Sanju is a Masterpiece..#SanjuReview #SanjuReview
MeeJabraFan: #Sanju deserved EID release , B grade #Race3 ne acchi release date waste kr di .. last year bhi Tubelight ne Barbad ki .
lost_boy23: Just watched #Sanju wht a movie Ranbir kapoor just nailed it oscar level performance proud fr been his fan #SanjuReview
Losereshwar: What a film, #sanju is extra ordinary. #lovingit #firsthalf #SanjuReview
Komalka39935494: What a magical performance by #ranbirkapoor as #sanju loved the movie
KhannaPreeti: #Sanju what a spectacular movie. A must watch. Ranbir Kapoor .... speechless.
KhalelKhazi: M-I-N-D-B-L-O-W-I-N-G Outstanding, @RajkumarHirani has again proven why is the master story teller. #Sanju
kanishka_Samrat: Brilliant performance by #Ranbir Can’t get out of the emotion of #Sanju Undoubtedly, one of the best biopics ever
jsifti: #Sanju is a treat to #RanbirKapoor from @RajkumarHirani ...A turning point....
JITENDRAm18: Powerfull Perforamnce ! Great Acting | Great Direction | Good Reviews | Result
jignashaax: #Sanju WAS SUCH A GOOD MOVIE. God bless Ranbir Kapoor and Paresh Raval
isalilsand: #Sanju is a must watch!! #RanbirKapoor and #RajkumarHirani need a standing ovation!!! Can't describe in words how the film Is!! #SanjuReview
imrrpandey: #Sanju first half completed...FANTASTIC #Ranbirkapoor nailed it. @RajkumarHirani
imfurkanpatel: #Sanju fantastic movie. superb acting by #RanbirKapoor . Just loved it #karharmaidanfateh @duttsanjay
hydbhagat: #Sanju loved it.. Dark & Emotional
DEEPUTIWARI8: A wonderful, Emotional and Amazing Movie...! All credit goes to Acting of Ranbir kapoor and baba ki Story ko..!❤
Cricketician_: #Sanju is such a wonderful movie✌️ I suggest everyone to go and watch it
beSANYAMit: #sanju थिएटर से निकलकर @mkoirala , विकी कौशल और ज़िम्स अरब की ऐक्टिंग दिमाग़ में घूम रही है. @RajkumarHirani ने इनसे कमाल का काम लिया.
babarsher_: #Sanju One of the best movies
ashusingh517: Just saw #sanju movie and i got fascinated by Ranbir Kapoor work. Ranbir and @vickykaushal09 brilliant actors.
Arwinder267: #Sanju will break all records...
anshul01703187: #Sanju Raj Kumar sir ur brilliant
anand63: Sanju Baba love you more
AnaiKomagan: Rajkumar Hirani’s #Sanju Is Easily This Year’s Best Film❤️
amoldeshmukh099: One reply for the movie #Sanju is AWESOME
AkashVlog: #Sanju an awesome Movie #mustwatch @ranbirrk @RajkumarHirani @duttsanjay #SanjuReview
Ahsan_Shahzad10: I just watched #Sanju I am speechless. This is definitely movie of the year. #RanbirKapoor killed it as Sanjay Dutt. A Wow movie..
adhilashraf: #sanju...Really a masterpiece... #Ranbir and #RajKumarHirani .. the best combo in the bollywood.
actorchayan: Sanju superbbbbb movie. Ranbir rocks.
Chikati_rajyam: Strictly avg.. just watch it for RanbirKapoor's acting #Sanju
SrkiansBoss: #OneWordReview What a Waahiyaat film. What a waahiyaat acting by Gaybir Kapoor #Sanju
karan_ughrora: sanju matt dekho baccho please
IamKabuliwala: If you hate your life and money watch #Sanju Never felt wasting time and money this much. #Raju mujhe mera paisa wapas chaheyi.
This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
Sanjay Dutt’s Biography